New Year – New Tech: Why Writers and Authors Need to Get a Handle on Tech in 2023
I think my writing brain might explode. Why? It’s not the coming up with ideas. It’s not the writing. It’s not the editing. Nor the publishing. It’s that instead of all doing all those things, my brain is being constantly challenged to learn and implement new tech.
Why tech? Writing should be as simple as putting pen to paper, right? Well, sure, that’s if we want to pretend it’s still 2010.
But it’s 2023 and:
- Publishers expect hopeful authors to arrive not just with a great manuscript, but also a large and active social media fan base.
- Readers now discover and consume writing in a multitude of different ways and from various mediums.
- The nature of the publishing industry, in a world awash with content, has led to even more downward pressure on author incomes and increased difficulty achieving visibility for books amongst the millions of titles already in existence.
- Even traditionally published authors (unless already well-established and therefore tended to either by their publishing house or their own admin team) find that without a good handle on tech, they’re unable to fully exploit opportunities.
This leaves writers with three choices:
- Outsource tech needs via agencies and virtual assistants.
- Or, be let down.
I’m choosing to tech-up. Again. Why? As a writer and a carer, I have limited time, and even more limited money, so it makes sense for me to do as much DIY in my author business as possible. It also makes sense, as I am not a one-book author. Investing in my tech skills pays off over multiple books and enterprises. And for all the stresses of learning new tech, I also find it enjoyable and liberating to master new tools and put them into service. (When I use and love a tool, I also sometimes become a partner affiliate and help spread the word, so a few of the links below may be affiliate links.)
I’d call myself a tech-proficient writer, but not an expert techie by any means. Besides all the basic software programs and tools such as Word, Canva and Zoom, I regularly use programs including Vellum (a great book layout tool), Scrivener (writing app) and ProWriting Aid (a writing improver…when I remember to use it 😉 ). I also use Publisher Rocket (a book research and marketing tool). I can update my WordPress-based author website myself (though I outsourced the original build to Jin and Co). I also use ecommerce tools (for online and in-person book sales) and am across the key social media sites.
But in the last few months as part of my author business, I’ve needed to learn and use another six programs/tools/technologies. 6! That’s a lot of focus, time and brain space – all taking time and energy away from any potential writing projects. It just seems that any decision I make about my writing business lately leads to more necessary tech-learning.
Rather than resist, I’m going all in. The new tech I’ve learned and utilised in the past few months include:
New Zenler is an online course creation platform that I am using to host courses for Bold Authors (I suppose mentioning Bold Authors here means I’m soft launching!). Working with other publishing experts, the courses and resources are for authors who want to take charge of their writing career and offer insights into the Australian publishing industry, as well as deep dive information into topics such as a detailed timeline of what to do when to bring a book successfully to market. I settled on New Zenler after doing copious amounts of research into other online course platforms including Kajabi, Teachable, Thinkific, Kartra, Udemy, Podia, LearnPress etc and dove in because of the lower cost combined with functionality, ease of use and a very engaged and active course creation community on the New Zenler socials. Setting up online courses is just another way to leverage my author IP and expand on the content from Look – it’s Your Book! my self-publishing guide for Australian authors. I’m thinking of adding a new course to Bold Authors soon too, something along the lines of: ‘How to turn your non-fiction book into an online course’ – what do you think?
I was already using Canva to create artwork for everything from social media to postcards for my books, but I’ve now also learned how to use it to create and record presentations for the Bold Authors courses. I did have a play with other recording software, but decided on Canva due to its ease of use and cost effectiveness.
Though it’s not really a technology, I needed to set up on Fiverr and learn how to navigate the job platform so I could find and work with a designer. I needed specialist help to design the template pages for my New Zenler site and though I’m trying to DIY as much as possible, I had a mental block when it came to setting up the templates. Using Fiverr I was able to narrow down a New Zenler proficient designer and move ahead.
Then I needed to learn Loom as the Fiverr designer wanted to work that way to explain the project. Loom lets you record and share feedback. For a project like mine, as it’s more visual, it’s faster and more effective than typing out an email. It was relatively easy…but still meant I had to learn and use a new technology.
For the Bold Authors mini course All You Need to Know About Author Photos, I wanted to create editable PDF worksheets for students, but I didn’t want to pay $28.99 a month for an Adobe Acrobat Pro Subscription to do so. The solution was a year’s sub to DocFly for $4.99 per month which will also allow me to set up editable PDF’s for the other courses that will be ready at launch including Publishing Pathways: Traditional, Self or Hybrid Publishing – Which is Right for You?, plus Ultimate Timeline Guide to Successfully Publish Your Bookand Advance Information Sheet/Book Sell Sheet Templates. It took a little bit of time to transform the first PDF, but each subsequent one was easy.
Ah, Twitter. The takeover by billionaire Elon Musk and other funders has led to major changes on the site and you can read my original blog post about Twitter and Mastodon here. This has prompted some users to reduce their reliance on the site and to seek alternatives such as the decentralised network Mastodon. It’s taken some getting used to, but I’m finding it a much more relaxing social media platform…especially as it doesn’t have the frenetic push/pull algorithms and aggressiveness of Twitter. You can find me on Mastodon here.
So, phew! That’s a lot of tech on top of all the other tech. But it’s January and the jobs are now done!
What I’ve learned from my latest tech foray is to be open to mastering new tools, but also to outsource when needed to remove the humps.
With multiple tools now available to writers, authorpreneurs and indie authors, new technology can really help you take charge of and grow your author business.
Now…if I can just remember how to upload this blog… 😉